turtle

1 of 3

noun (1)

tur·​tle ˈtər-tᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
plural turtles also turtle
often attributive
: any of an order (Testudines synonym Chelonia) of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine reptiles that have a toothless horny beak and a shell of bony dermal plates usually covered with horny shields enclosing the trunk and into which the head, limbs, and tail usually may be withdrawn

turtle

2 of 3

noun (2)

turtle

3 of 3

noun (3)

archaic

Examples of turtle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
So snorkel or dive amongst a kaleidoscope of colors and marine life, including turtles, sharks, fish, manta rays, and whale shakes. Katie Lockhart, Travel + Leisure, 10 July 2024 According to the station, the lake contains fish and turtles. Howard Cohen, Miami Herald, 6 July 2024 Tynes says locals in Washington rallied around her and Kedar's families to help them through the aftermath of the crash, including helping look after the couple's pets — Cullen’s turtle, Squirt; Kedar’s seven birds, called budgies — and her plants until they could be sent back to their relatives. Adam Carlson, Peoplemag, 5 July 2024 Although President John Tyler served turtle soup made from what was said to be a 300-pound turtle at his July Fourth celebration in 1841, barbecues and picnic baskets have been more the norm with recent administrations. Rosemary Feitelberg, WWD, 4 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for turtle 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'turtle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

modification of French tortue, from Late Latin (bestia) tartarucha, feminine of tartaruchus of Tartarus, from Greek tartarouchos, from Tartaros Tartarus; from Mithraic and early Christian association of the turtle with infernal forces

Noun (3)

Middle English turtil, turtle, going back to Old English turtle, turtla borrowed (with dissimilation, as also in Middle Dutch tortel "turtledove," Old High German turtul, turtila) from Latin turtur, of onomatopoeic origin

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1612, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1952, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of turtle was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near turtle

Cite this Entry

“Turtle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turtle. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

turtle

1 of 2 noun
tur·​tle ˈtərt-ᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
archaic

turtle

2 of 2 noun
plural turtles also turtle
: any of an order of land, freshwater, and marine reptiles with a toothless horny beak and a bony shell which encloses the body and into which the head, legs, and tail usually may be withdrawn
Etymology

Noun

Old English turtla "turtledove," from Latin turtur (same meaning)

Noun

derived from French tortue "tortoise, turtle," from Latin tartaruchus "of Tartarus (part of Hades reserved for the wicked)," from Greek tartarouchos (same meaning)

Medical Definition

turtle

noun
tur·​tle ˈtərt-ᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
plural turtles also turtle
often attributive
: any of an order (Testudines) of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine reptiles that have a toothless horny beak and a shell of bony dermal plates usually covered with horny shields enclosing the trunk and into which the head, limbs, and tail usually may be withdrawn

called also chelonian

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